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Natural Rights are the Foundation of Liberty

To me, it seems absurd that - as libertarians - we even need to have this discussion. However, recent threads (here and here) have set out to claim either natural rights do not exist or only exist in instances where they are able to be defended by those claiming said rights. I will demonstrate that both arguments are fallacious. Natural rights are the foundation on which liberty rests.

To be clear, we must first define natural rights:

Natural Right - a right that would exist in the absence of government

Right - a just claim or title

First, let us suppose that rights do not exist. If rights do not exist, then it could be said that no person has a just claim or title to anything. If this were the case, we would expect everything to be perfectly communal. However, if no individual could own anything, then by extension, no group of people could own anything either - as this would require the definition of group rights - but we have assumed that no rights exist. Therefore, we have arrived at a logical contradiction, and we must conclude that rights must exist.

We'll consider an example. Caveman A makes a spear. We could, then, say that Caveman A has a just claim to use and possess the spear. To say that Caveman A did not have a just claim to use and possess the spear would be analogous to saying that the use of the spear by him would be unjust. Making such a claim would be logically dishonest. We conclude that Caveman A has a right to his property. Does Caveman B have a just claim to the spear? Logically and correctly, no. If Caveman B took the spear for himself, the action would be unjust. Caveman B would have violated the right of Caveman A.

To say that neither man had a just claim to the spear would be absurd and meaningless - that is, to say that rights do not exist.

Now, let's move on to the existence of natural rights. As stated, these are just claims or titles that would exist in the absence of government. So, the claim that natural rights do not exist is to make the claim that, in the absence of a government, rights would not exist either. It turns out that we run into the same logical conundrum as before - since in the previous treatment we never assumed a government existed; so, the above argument still holds. Therefore, rights would exist in the absence of government, and by definition, these are natural rights.

In the course of this analysis, it has also been shown false that no rights exist when they are unable to be successfully defended. Theft is an unjust claim to another's property. Murder is an unjust claim to another's life. In order for a claim to be unjust, a just claim must exist. Therefore, any unjust claim is a violation of a just claim, or more properly, a violation of a right.

It has also been claimed by the user that posted the mentioned threads that using the argument for natural rights would almost certainly lead to socialism. He claimed that a person may steal food to protect their own life. However, as I have shown, stealing is a violation of natural rights and, therefore, cannot be considered part of any philosophy that has the protection of natural rights at its foundation - such as libertarianism.

Natural rights are the foundation of liberty. After all, can a person be held in slavery without being wronged?

____________________________________________________

Update 6/25/2013

Some users have tried to make the claim that since instances may arise where there is no clear right and wrong party that rights do not exist except where written laws (or a social contract) can be used by an official arbiter to make final judgements. In other words, the argument infers that rights do not exist unless they are spelled out (bestowed) by a government because in the absence of such a compact there would be gray area. One can see that this argument holds no water when it is considered that gray area can exist even when a government is in place. Thus, if the argument were correct, it could be said that no rights exist even under government because gray area may exist.

In reality, the existence of gray area implies that there are areas that gray area does not exist. For instance, ask any human on the face of the planet the following questions:

1. A perfect stranger approaches you and shoots you in the face. In that case, have you been wronged?

2. A perfect stranger approaches you and steals your wallet/purse. In that case, have you been wronged?

3. A perfect stranger approaches you, holds a gun to your head, and forces you to perform an act that you would not otherwise perform. In that case, have you been wronged?

where I define a perfect stranger as a person that has no knowledge of you, and you have no knowledge of him/her. Thus, no motive exists for any of the above actions.

You can try to make up a hypothetical person but one does not exist. As well, in the questions, it was never assumed that a government existed.

I would like to continue, but I have business to tend. I will address further arguments in the comment section or via another update at a later time.



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"The Kicker"

Every time I see an argument purporting to prove the validity of “natural rights,” I look for “the kicker.” “The kicker” is the implicit assumption of a universally valid morality, a “natural” morality, from which one can logically derive “natural” rights. The kicker in your argument is the assumption that all men share a common definition of what constitutes a "just claim."

They do not.

"Justice" is a moral concept about which different people have many different ideas. Every idea of “justice” derives from one’s belief in the moral rightness of compensating others for the value one has taken from them. Is that belief universal and unquestionable? It is not.

Every thief believes that he has a "just claim" to whatever he wants to steal -- if he bothers to name the principles guiding his conduct at all. (Such men commonly disdain principles beyond “anything I can take belongs to me.”) Every government employee believes that he has a "just claim" to his paycheck -- even if the funds are all "taxes" extorted from unwilling victims. Every woman who has an abortion believes that she has a "just claim" to her own body, never mind what happens to her unborn child when she has her uterus scraped. Every politician who votes for a tax or a "regulation" believes that he, as an "elected representative," has a "just claim" to the lives and property of the people he supposedly represents. Every socialist believes that one person's need is a "just claim" on the property of others.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (Hamlet)

As long as each individual has the ability (and the need) to choose the moral principles by which he will guide his own conduct, there will never, and CAN never be any universal morality. No universal ideal of justice. No universal agreement on what is "right." And no universal agreement on what "rights" people have.

Whence, then, comes this idea of "liberty," if not from "natural rights?"

It would be very comforting to believe that liberty is some kind of natural law, or a characteristic of man's nature, or a gift from all-powerful God. The plain truth is otherwise: liberty is an ideal that some men value and/or choose to pursue for themselves and/or for others -- and some men don't. ("May their chains rest lightly upon them. . .")

Each person is born with free will, and a body controlled by his own mind. We are not remote-controlled drones, or hive-minds. We are individuals each with the power and the need to judge right and wrong, to guide the choices on which our lives and our happiness depend. This much freedom is a part of our human nature: our minds are beyond the reach of tyrants. (So far. I'm sure that Obama, the CIA, and their ilk all jerk off to fantasies of true thought control.)

Since men DO have free will, and since they must rely on the judgment of their individual minds to cope with the objective realties around them, the standard by which they guide their actions is of central importance to their life and happiness. Stupid, dangerous, conflict-producing moral standards produce unhappy and often fatal results for the people who rely on them for guidance. That doesn’t stop people from adopting them anyway. Free will sucks sometimes.

And sometimes it doesn’t. Our free will is what allows us – if we so choose – to select, pursue and win our own values. Of which liberty is one.

But enough with this “natural” rights crap. Don’t pretend that OUR morality of self-ownership and self-responsibility is universally accepted. Men can and do choose other moral systems. Freedom has REAL enemies, who hold it to be a positive evil. Our last four Presidents, for instance. I guarantee you, they do not think of themselves as “evil men.” They think they are doing what is "right" – by very different moral standards than those used by libertarians or voluntaryists. Statism IS a religion, a moral code which guides many people in making their life choices. Statism holds that the life and property of every person belongs to his/her government. I’d call that universal slavery – statists call it “patriotism.” I call it a sin; they name it a virtue. What we have here is (at least) two different moral systems which are fundamentally incompatible with one another. Both are real, and could equally claim to be “natural.”

To claim that only our vision of “right” is “natural” is to discard reality from our arsenal, pretending that our real enemy does not exist. By so doing we surrender our one REAL advantage over statism/authoritarianism: understanding the fundamental nature of the choice we all face: we can CHOOSE to be free. Or we can CHOOSE to be enslaved (“governed.”) When you put that choice out in plain sight, choosing NOT to be free is a shameful thing. We should not allow our enemies to keep that choice hidden from our understanding. Rights are never “natural.” They have to be understood, chosen, and fought for – if they are ever to be won.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Agreed

I love the natural right argument and personally do not like utilitarian arguments.

It all boils down to free

It all boils down to free will as the utmost foundation. Whether you believe God gave us free will or it evolved by means of our intelligence and evolution in the natural world we all possess the autonomy to do what we want when we want. I also believe our souls are here to learn lessons and spiritually evolve through our choices here on Earth. Our goal should be to use our free will in a manner that uplifts ourselves and through love those around us.

Rights are the second level built out of free will. While we recognize that we are free to do what we wish, we also know that our free will should not impose upon other's free will. If I use my will to damage another I am in one way or another diminishing their free will by physical or psychological harm or imprisonment. This is why only actions that create a victim should be governed by laws. This is the most fundamental contract we have with our fellow human beings and in our Republic this contract is the Constitution. That is why the Republic is based on respect for our fellow man. We may disagree with his actions, but he is exercising his will and by our mutual contract I have no authority to use my will to diminish his as long as he is not doing the same to others.

Laws should then only be created to uphold this contract we have among our fellow humans. This is why government is dangerous as it creates a structure that codifies a system that robs us of our free will and forces us to bend our energy to the will of the rulers. An example of this is the Draft. During the Vietnam war, thousands of young men were robbed of their free will and sent over to war so that the government and war profiteers could create wealth and power for themselves and thus expand their will by robbing it from other.

The war on drugs is so insidious because smoking Cannabis is a pure expression of my free will and the consequences will be mine alone and the lessons I learn from these consequences will help me evolve spiritually. When the government takes my free will to smoke Cannabis, I am robbed not only of my will but also my ability to face my own consequences and spiritually learn from them.

That was pretty conceptual but I hope it makes sense in one form or another.

We all share this eternally evolving present moment- The past and future only exist as inconsequential mental fabrications.

So if "free will" or "natural rights" do not come from a source.

....superior to man, then in the context of what you have described above, explain the natural rights and free will rights of a being vastly superior to yourself, to whom you are insignificant.

From that being's perspective, it would be his natural right to dispose of you and your resources as he sees fit, you're "rights" being so inconsequential [to him] to not even be worthy of note.

To that being, there is no "contract" with you and why would that being be willing to enter into such a contract with a proverbial ant?

I.e. law of the jungle.

The only way to justify that your rights are "natural" is that both his and your rights come from an authority superior to your both, such authority who has also specified that neither shall murder nor steal from the other. Further, that one should treat the other as one would like to be treated themselves (non-agression principle).

This is how the founding fathers saw things and this is what motivated them, these ideas having for the first time been propagated through the enlightenment, which itself was instigated by the masses having the ability to read the bible FOR THEMSELVES rather than getting preached at, thereby discovering material therein that was absolutely revolutionary and which obliterating the concept of the "divine rights of kings."

I am not sure what you mean

I am not sure what you mean here. I get that you are arguing that our rights are derived from a supernatural authority, God, that has set forth commandments such as do not kill etc. which I agree to an extent in a philosophical manner. I am confused when you say about the "Being" that there is no contract and could squash me at any time? I think you are stating that a God would simply use his free will as he sees fit against me as I have not means of defending myself?

We all share this eternally evolving present moment- The past and future only exist as inconsequential mental fabrications.

No.

I was pointing out a logical flaw in your previous assertion. Reread again objectively and let me know what you think.

I read over your post and

I read over your post and still do not understand what you are saying. If the being that considers me insignificant is the government then that is the very essence of the 2nd Ammendment. God will not come down from the sky to persuade the government from bombing people or intervein on our behalf. It is up to us citizens whom with we share the Contract of the Constitution to use the force necessary (political or otherwise) to maintain our free will.

We all share this eternally evolving present moment- The past and future only exist as inconsequential mental fabrications.

I don't disagree.

However, your own assertion in your latest reply goes against the natural rights argument. You're proving the argument that absent rights coming from a superior authority, the only thing left is those rights you are physically able in enforcing. That is a contrary argument to natural rights.

Excellent point this.

Excellent point this.

"Rights are the second level built out of free will".

Great discussion.

I see the discussion veering to one side i.e what if natural rights do not exist and corollaries thereof. But in my understanding, Bill3's original post looked at the other extreme side of it. If natural rights exist then this means everyone has a right to life and liberty. Which in turn leads to right to food and medical assistance. Because without these one cannot live. How do convince someone new to the libertarian philosophy that rights to food and medical assistance do not exist while the rights to life and liberty do. Because often during arguments people get emotional and ask if we should let people die from hunger or disease. And there is no emotionally appealing way to counter this except that you don't violate one persons right to defend another's no matter the cost. I would like help on this from u guys.

Ask the person ...

... if they want to live in a peaceful society. Isn't that the main goal of politics? It is NOT the main goal of psychopaths, but it is the main goal of most people. It's why people debate political issues, trying to find the best way for a peaceful society.

If you ask someone that and find out that they think violence to achieve goals in society is a good thing, then you are dealing with a psychopath, by definition. This assumes you are talking about something other than self-defense (and of course, the psychopath will conjure up some scheme to justify that anything they don't like is self-defense, but they are just playing word games).

If they agree that a peaceful society is the ultimate goal of politics, then ask them if a peaceful society is possible if you have the right to take their property by force to achieve what you think is best for others. Do you have the right to steal from them if you would like to have their property? Do you have the right to steal from them if you think someone else would better benefit from their property? Do you have the right to rape them if you want sex? Do you have the right to kill them if you don't like what they say?

If nobody can steal from them to "do good things for others," then that includes stealing from them to feed or care for others. It is perfectly fine and good to help others, but it is not acceptable to harm Adam for the purpose of helping Baker. Baker can seek his own food and medical care.

In the USSR, there were breadlines when the government had control of food. Today, there are waiting lists and medical refusals where government has control of health care. Not only is it immoral to use the force of government, but it is counterproductive because it does not work.

In the USA, prior to the government taking over so much, there were soup kitchens and free clinics for the poor. The idea that it is EITHER the government uses force to solve social problems OR people will be dying in the streets is a LIE. In fact, there are MORE THAN two possibilities.

Look up the term "false dichotomy."

positive vs. negative rights

How do convince someone new to the libertarian philosophy that rights to food and medical assistance do not exist while the rights to life and liberty do.

Right to food or medicine means someone else is forced to take an action (to give you stuff).

Right to life and liberty means someone else is not allowed to take an action (steal or aggression).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights

Thanks for the easy and short

Thanks for the easy and short answer. It is easy for us to see the light in this. Hopefully the uninitiated will too.

Always a good point to bring

Always a good point to bring up to any statist:

"Any right that is granted can just as easily be taken away. Therefore, it wasn't really a right to begin with."

Natural Rights exists with or without government

The same way gravity exists with or without government. There could be a law against gravity but it would still be the natural order and natural law.

The concept of Natural rights is that they exist in the natural order. It is a statist concept to say that government can only give you rights. Government does nto exist to grant you rights, it exists to punish those who defy the natural order and violate the rights of others. It cannot grant extra rights that you didn't already have.

Simply put government exists to punish/protect through deterrance of punishment those who would violate our natural rights. The constitution exists to protect us from the government going over reaching past this limit.

Any law that goes against the natural law is immoral.

Have you people read john locke? Good god...

Excellent post and topic ...

... and I would like to add that although "right and wrong" may difficult to determine in a particular instance, that is not a valid refutation of the fundamental argument. There are instances where right and wrong are easily determined. Deal with that first. Then and only then, might we take a look at those areas where things are more difficult to determine.

three cheers for DP!

I just wanted to pipe in and say that this is the kind of discussion I love to see on the DP. Intelligent arguments from both sides on an important issue, which raises the understanding for everyone involved.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

your proof by contradiction is flawed

The proof breaks down here: "If this were the case, we would expect everything to be perfectly communal."

The word "communal" is ambiguous. I take "communal" to mean either "being used by everyone all the time" or "everyone has the right to use it at any time".

If you're using the second definition, then basically the statement is saying "if there were no rights, then these rights exist". That might be the conclusion, but the right-hand side of that statement does not follow from the left-hand side.

If you're using the first definition, then the statement is saying "if there were no rights, then everything would be used by everyone all the time". However, I do not think this would be logically necessary. It strikes me that if there were no rights, people would use things as they see fit, taking into account the possible negative side-effects of using things others intend to use. I wouldn't say this is communal use.

The key word in that sentence is "expect"

When I wrote it I toyed with qualifying the sentence with "at first sight we may expect..."

I used the word "communal" in accordance with the second definition you stated - "everyone has the right to use it at any time" - but I would replace "at any time" with "equally" - to be more general. The point I was making is that it is impossible to define "communal" without relying on the concept of "just claim," since it would be nonsensical to assume every use would be "unjust" - that is to say that every time someone used an item it would be unjust to everyone else. And, if it was unjust to everyone else, such a notion would imply that that the group - minus the individual using the item - had a "just claim." A world without the concept of "just claim" cannot exist.

Further, "communal property" cannot exist - unless something is in absolute abundance. For instance, air could be considered a virtual communal property. Anything in limited supply cannot be considered communal property since if everyone had an equally just claim to the property (like I said above), anytime someone used the property it would be in violation of the rest of the group's just claims. The smaller the supply gets the less communal an item can be approximated. One important example is an individual. Since individuals are unique, it is impossible for them to be communal.

Assuming that "just" and "unjust" do not exist is also nonsensical. These terms become defined naturally and almost instantly. Even if the words did not exist the concepts still would and would very quickly be given terms. Once a baby bird learning to fly fell into my garden. As I approached the garden, there must have been ten birds (of different species, nonetheless) that began frantically chirping at me - in essence, begging me not to mess with the baby. They may not have a word for "just," but they seemed very familiar with the concept. The concepts of "just" and "unjust" are natural.

I just realized ...

... you are probably taking the OP's statement out of context.

You say that things would be used as one sees fit and not "all the time." But in a communal situation, once one person finishes using something, someone else will use it.

Things would not LITERALLY be used "all the time," but close enough to make the point.

Besides that, in a true communal situation, there would be very little property to use anyway because there would be no incentive to produce anything beyond the very basics.

People would pitch in to build huts and grass skirts, but other than that you would spend your time finding food, not debating the concept of rights.

"Use" is also a right ...

... because it is a right of possession, if only for a moment.

If you are using a "community" hammer, can I take it from you by force and use it myself?

If the computer you are using right now as your read this is a "community" computer, do I have the right to tell you to stop using it?

If I do have the right to tell you to stop using it ... THEN STOP USING IT RIGHT NOW!

If you ever, at any time in the future, use that computer for any purpose, then you have violated my communal right to refuse your communal right.

The concept of "communal rights" is a contradiction. Contradictions do not exist in reality, so an idea that is a contradiction is, by definition, false.

Read up on the 3 Laws of Logic: the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-Contradiction, and the Law of the Excluded Middle.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_classic_laws_of_thought#...

BTW: The reason these sorts of discussion devolve into contradictory concepts like "communal rights" is because the existence of rights is axiomatic. It MUST be true because the opposite CANNOT be true. Being an axiom, it cannot be logically contradicted and any attempt to contradict it must (by definition) assume that it is true.

communal rights is a contradiction

I agree 100% that the concept of communal rights is a contradiction in terms. I was merely pointing out that the step from assuming no rights exist to a world of communal rights is faulty because the one does not follow from the other.

use: the employment of a good towards an end

Use of something does not imply the right to use it. If I own a car and you steal it from me, you have the ability to use it but not the right.

If there are no rights, then there is no moral restriction to using any thing as you see fit. This does not mean you get to decide what the restrictions are on any thing, which is the situation implied by communal rights.

Here is the problem ...

... first off, you used the communal computer and I told you not to. ;-)

But seriously, the disagreement here is that you are using the term "use" in a way that omits the moral element.

Morality is simply the idea of how we SHOULD act with regard to one another.

If the concept of rights is valid, then it necessarily also includes a moral element. One can use a car, or one can JUSTIFIABLY use a car. The thief steals a car and uses it, but he is not justified in doing so.

If the concept of rights is not valid, then NOBODY can justify or not justify use of property. Therefore, you cannot justify the use of "your" computer. (And in such a society, there would be no computers to use because nobody would have incentive to create them.)

Rights are a concept. They do not exist in the physical world. We cannot physically touch a right, but if we are to live in a civil world then we will have to come to agreements. The alternative is an uncivilized world, in which case debates are pointless. In an uncivilized world, only fighting ability matters, as with the animals.

If rights are not valid, then you do not have any moral argument to defend your speech. Stop saying what you are saying or you will get a bullet in the head. You cannot defend against that other than to have your own bullets.

Rights are a means of separating one person's actions from another person's harm. I can swing my arms as much as I want, unless my arm swinging punches you in the face. I am not morally justified in doing that unless it is in self-defense or the defense of others whom you are harming.

If a person thinks rights are not valid, then they should not complain if someone punches them, steals their property, tells them to shut up, or shoots them. And they should not complain when anyone does any of those things to anyone else.

If the whole society is in a free-for-all, then the society won't last. The fact that the society has lasted for a long time is proof that humans do, in some way or another, accept the idea of rights. And that includes you, because you take actions every day to preserve and enhance your own life.

If you try to claim that rights do not exist, then you will have to use your body in some way to do so, which proves that you believe that you exercise a right to speak, write, or type. By trying to disprove rights, per se, you are demonstrating that rights do exist. It is axiomatic for that reason.

The concept of "communal rights" is self-contradictory, and the OP probably used that concept because true communists use this concept all the time. But they can only do so by omitting morality from human life. Use of property does not happen in a vacuum, it happens in the real world, where humans do factor moral decisions into their actions.

good points

You make several valid points; let me address them one at a time.

> ... first off, you used the communal computer and I told you not to. ;-)

Well, it's not really communal if it can't be used for the enlightenment of others, is it? ;-P

> If the concept of rights is not valid, then NOBODY can justify or not justify use of property. Therefore, you cannot justify the use of "your" computer.

Agreed. But this situation is not self-contradictory. However, this situation is different from the situation in which anyone can justify any use of any property, which is my understanding of the communal situation. The communal situation is self-contradictory. The proof by contradiction of the original poster fails, I think, because there is no logical transition from the first situation to the second.

> Rights are a concept. They do not exist in the physical world. We cannot physically touch a right, but if we are to live in a civil world then we will have to come to agreements.

Agreed, but this does not imply that rights are subjective. It merely implies that our conception of rights is subjective. In the same sense that our conception of truth is subjective, but truth itself is objective. Natural law, like truth, is objective. By the same token, rights (being the extension of natural law) and truth do not exist in the physical world but in the world of ideas.

> If rights are not valid, then you do not have any moral argument to defend your speech.

No, but there may be other arguments by which to defend speech. "I get pleasure from arguing" is a valid argument which does not rely on natural rights or any moral argument.

It is not a valid argument, of course, if in your definition of "defend" you incorporate a moral component. Then no defense which does not boil down to a moral argument is a valid defense. But that'd be choosing the definitions so as to prove what you already agree with, rather than changing your opinion to agree with whatever can be proven from logical deduction.

> If a person thinks rights are not valid, then they should not complain if someone punches them, steals their property, tells them to shut up, or shoots them. And they should not complain when anyone does any of those things to anyone else.

Quite the contrary. If a person believes rights are not valid, then their complaining about being punched is entirely in accordance with their belief system as they need no justification to do so. However, their complaint less meaningful because the complaining-behavior is in accordance with their belief system even when they're not being punched.

It must be noted, however, that a valid complaint can still be made on the basis of empathy and pain while making no appeal to rights.

> If you try to claim that rights do not exist, then you will have to use your body in some way to do so, which proves that you believe that you exercise a right to speak, write, or type. By trying to disprove rights, per se, you are demonstrating that rights do exist. It is axiomatic for that reason.

While I agree with the approach of argumentation ethics ("since you are arguing, you cannot argue against rights"), I find this particular argument to be lacking. I can write a simple program that outputs the string "I think that rights do not exist." when when queried with "What do you think about natural law?". Moreover, suppose I am someone's slave and that person has ordered me to argue in favor or in opposition of rights. In this case, by arguing, I am not asserting my own property rights in my own body. On the contrary: I am affirming my owner's property rights in me by doing as he says.

The ability to argue and the act of argumentation are no more proofs that rights are valid than the ability to steal and the theft itself are proofs that the thief is the rightful owner of the recently acquired property.

Well ...

... we got a bit off track here because the OP clearly defined rights as including a moral component. We agree (as the OP does) that "communal rights" is a contradictory concept.

The last statement you made that I would like to explore is this:

"The ability to argue and the act of argumentation are no more proofs that rights are valid than the ability to steal and the theft itself are proofs that the thief is the rightful owner of the recently acquired property."

Again, the ability to do something says nothing about a moral component of whether or not that act is justifiable. We agree on that. And OP included a moral component in his definition of rights, indicating he agrees, too.

So, your point addresses the proof of whether or not rights exist at all, correct?

I previously said that rights are a concept and do not exist in the physical world. Agree?

Furthermore, the concept of rights is an abstract way of identifying what sort of concrete actions we SHOULD (or should not) take with regard to others. Agree?

Although people do not agree on what rights really are or should be, that lack of agreement is irrelevant to whether or not there MIGHT be some way to arrive at objective standards of what rights should be in a civil society. Agree?

All of this "should do this" or "should not do that" has to do with making moral decisions regarding our actions as it relates to other people. Agree?

Therefore, the concept of rights necessarily includes a moral component. Discussing an action that does not include a moral component is a discussion of something other than "rights." In other words, ability to take an action is a different topic of conversation from discussing the moral judgement regarding taking that action. Agree?

yes to everything

I commend your efforts to thoroughly understand your opponent's point of view, but ... where exactly do we disagree? :p

LOL ...

... I don't think we disagree at all.

I think we were talking past each other.

natural rights

If people do not have any natural rights, this means they don't have a just claim or title.

Your belief that it is moral for them to have this claim, doesn't automatically make natural rights come into existence into the minds of others -- only in your own mind.

If you want people to have a just claim or title, then you believe in this concept and persuade others to believe in it. If enough people believe in it, then they will act on their belief and support it.

Obviously, human nature must be hardwired to believe is some version of property rights, just not enough as libertarians believe in.

I think that a better way to explain liberty is through the non-aggression principle.

And don't forget, anytime you talk about rights, some people think you're mean positive rights. You have to distinguish and explain the difference between positive and negative rights.

> I think that a better way

> I think that a better way to explain liberty is through the non-aggression principle.

Yes, but that works only as long as people don't ask you to define precisely what constitutes aggression.

I would posit that you cannot define aggression without reducing to natural rights.

I don't think you can be too dogmatic with it all.

My ancestors stole food to live and were deported from England for it. I do not consider what they did to be wrong but it was stealing (which is wrong but not in this instance).

I do believe in Natural rights in that all people should be free to do as they feel in life (even if I do not like it) as long as it does not affect others.

Who could be against this ideal? (quite a few people as it turns out).

Lord Acton, Lord Chief Justice of England, 1875 - "The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the People v. The Banks."